Despite some recent progress, child abuse remains a serious problem. There are several reasons for this.
First, many parents, especially in underdeveloped and rural areas, think it is normal to punish their children violently. Such corporal punishment can scar youngsters emotionally as well as physically for life.
Second, youngsters often face neglect because their parents work so hard that they do not have enough time to pay attention to their children's emotional needs. Many parents also remain unaware that their children suffer abuse at the hands of siblings, classmates or adults.
Third, many children are afraid to speak up when they are abused. They may even have the wrong impression that they deserve being punished or bullied.
Abuse can do lasting harm to a child's development. We need to redouble our efforts to tackle the root causes of abusive behaviour both at home and in schools.
Connie Chan Sin-hang, Kit Sam Lam Bing Yim Secondary School
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Connie. Child abuse belongs to the darker side of society, and in a perfect world, it would not exist. We should be careful, however, to draw a distinction between a wilful act of harming a child and a parent who is simply unable to cope.
Even though Hong Kong is a first-world city with wonderful social services and programmes, we know that it is also a tough place. It is made even tougher when people do not have money. Parents often have to work very long hours and so cannot afford to care properly for their children. It can be difficult for them to seek help from strangers. Sometimes they don't even know that help is available.
We can help in our own way by making friends with children who seem sad and lonely. We can encourage them to take part in community activities so that they can find a way out of their troubles.